Baltic Thunder is the newest release from Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA. The official release of this beer was January 5th so I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get hold of some in Fredericksburg so quickly. I do enjoy a good Baltic Porter and have been looking forward to trying this new one from Victory. Its release had been much anticipated on beer forums and blogs. The Baltic Thunder recipe is derived from Perkuno's Hammer from the now defunct Heavyweight Brewing. I never had the opportunity to taste Perkuno's Hammer but it seemed to have an almost mythical reputation and was well-received at BeerAdvocate and RateBeer.
Of course, it's always exciting to try a new beer release. Victory beers have never disappointed and this was no exception. From the 22 oz. bottle, Baltic Thunder pours a mahogany-brown color that is translucent at the edges. A large bubbled, beige head forms and then fades to a thin ring. The aroma is of chocolate and molasses and is somewhat reserved. The taste is chocolate and roasted malt with some lingering sweetness and molasses. The mouthfeel is light and pleasant, though a bit thinner than I had expected. At 8.5% ABV, the alcohol level is well-masked. I didn't detect any alcohol burn.
Baltic Thunder is a blend of several brewing batches that were lagered for different periods of time. You can find more of the story here and here. I suspect the long lagering contributed to the smoothness and drinkability. This is certainly a very smooth beer without any bitterness. Due to the frequent, pre-release association with Perkuno's Hammer, I suspect some enthusiasts may be expecting something different. I'm sure my expectations were influenced, despite never having tried the original. My impression from reading reviews of Perkuno's Hammer is that is was likely more robust, with a more roasted, less sweet flavor.
I understand that Baltic Thunder will be a year-round release from Victory. The smoothness and drinkability should appeal to a wide range of drinkers. I can predict that we'll be enjoying it again.